Guide to the 2019 inter-county season
The 2019 football and hurling seasons are already underway, but they’ll go up a few gears in the last weekend of January when the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues commence.
So, what can the GAA public expect in terms of the structure and scheduling of all of the major inter-county competitions this year?
Firstly, there will be no major changes in the Allianz Leagues because 2019 is Year 2 of a two-year cycle.
It is worth noting though that the AFL Round 6 and AHL semi-finals will take place on Saturday, March 16 to avoid a clash with the All-Ireland Club Finals on St. Patrick's Day.
In an effort to further streamline the playing calendar, the 2019 Sigerson Cup Final will now take place mid-week on Wednesday, February 20th
Once again the month of April will be a club month entirely clear of inter-county activity.
One potential change to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship for 2019 has been a request to Central council to consider granting deviation from Rule 6.28 to allow for Phase 1 quarter-finals to be home games for the provincial champions with Phase 2 games being in Croke Park.
For 2019, CCCC recommends to Central Council that in accordance with Rule 6.28 that the groupings for the 2018 Quarter-Final Group Stage should be as follows:
Group 1: Munster winners, Ulster winners, Leinster runners up (or Rd 4 winner), Connacht runners-up (or Rd 4 winner)
Group 2: Leinster winners, Connacht winners, Munster runners-up (or Rd 4 winner), Ulster runners-up (or Rd 4 winner).
The scheduling of the Round Robin phase of the provincial hurling championships which proved so compelling in its maiden year in 2018 has been tweaked slightly to ensure no team will have to play on four consecutive weekends in 2019.
The CCCC has proposed an U-20 Football Development League competition to be played in May and early June which would guarantee each county at least four games in a development league plus one championship match.
Challenge games would not be permitted, they would be replaced by the development league. Central Council have also been saked to consider a motion to Congress to allow players to be eligible for U-20 once their senior team has exited the All-Ireland Championship.
Central Council has also been asked to facilitate a motion to Congress to replace replace frees with penalties for 'winner on the day' deciders.
As far as playing rules are concerned, 2019 is a significant year because five experimental rules in Gaelic Football are being tried in the early-season provincial cups as well as the Allianz Football League.
There are five experimental rules in total, and a comprehensive guide to them all can be read here.
The entire 2019 Master Fixtures Schedule can be viewed below.